About this Daily Classroom Special
Gung Hay Fat Choy—The Chinese New Year was written by Lisa Kwock,
former program assistant at Teachers Network.
Gung Hay Fat Choy
The Year of the Sheep
Chinese New Year is celebrated February 1, 2003.
Chinese New Year's is an important time of year for Chinese people all around the world. Of all the traditional Chinese festivals, Chinese New Year is the most colorful, elaborate, and joyous celebration. More than any other Chinese festival, the New Year stresses the importance of family.
Chinese New Year falls on the first day of the first moon of the lunar calendar. The first day can be on any day between January 21st and February 19th. This year—the Year of the
Sheep—Chinese New Years officially commences on February 1, 2003. The celebration lasts anywhere from one day to two weeks and takes place all throughout China and the United States—especially in large cities such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Honolulu.
Usually, preparations for the New Year celebration begin one month before the actual New Year festivities start. From cleaning house to dressing in new clothes to eating special foods, traditions and customs are imminent throughout the celebration for Chinese people. Families spend a great amount of time making sure their houses are swept and clean of evil spirits or thoughts. Red paper decorates many homes, restaurants, and Chinatowns as it wards off any evil spirits. Symbolic fruit such as oranges and tangerines and other foods are also found on display. The pronunciation in Chinese of these foods is homonymic with other Chinese words meaning prosperity, happiness, or longevity. All foods must be prepared prior to New Years Day to avoid having any sharp cooking or cutting utensils cut the "luck" of the New Year.
During the other days of the celebration, young people receive from older relatives red envelopes (Lai See) with enclosed "good luck" money. Lion dances, kung fu demonstrations, firecrackers and Chinese drums and gongs are popular viewing and audio spectacles in parades and smaller performance in the streets of Chinatowns. They also fend off evil spirits, particularly for shopkeepers of small stores. All in all, much effort is contributed to creating a positive and happy environment to bring in the New Year.
More than anything else, though, spending time with the family—immediate and remote—is prominent within all Chinese communities around the world during the New Year. The historical influence of Chinese throughout Asia is reflected by other Asian communities that celebrate the holiday in similar fashion to the Chinese.
Happy New Year! Gung Hay Fat
Sites you may want your students to visit are listed below. Be sure to check for appropriateness for your students' age.